Monthly Archives: February 2014

Half term is over … Onwards

Well third post in the half term. This time looking forward to the run up to Easter break. It’s been a hectic week as hinted at in my last post. Yet again I have learnt many things that I never thought I would, or even needed to learn, but I have. I have taken the opportunity to review the CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) that I have done since September. I find myself focussing on the present and taking things a step at a time.

My lesson plan design post has been my most popular post ever and some of the feedback has been very encouraging, including people keen to see it being used – there’s a question to ask in school.

My planning for this week has started and looking at my wording of my learning outcomes and solo station tasks to offer true differentiation. Tomorrow a data trawl to see how best to sit the groups this half term so everyone can be stretched and possibly even bring a mention of a growth mindset in , when encouraging pupils to aim higher.

Two weeks to PedagooLondon2 and my workshop choices are booked. It will be good to catch up with many friends and colleagues. In school, we have year 9 options evenings and parents evenings.

School trips have returned from South Africa and skiing in the Austrian Alps. The Poland Commenius trip has set off and later in the terms group go to New York – we are truly becoming an International school – let all this enhance the learning.

Enjoy your return to school (or half term if that’s happening where you are).

It’s half term and …

OK, faithful followers and twitter pals. 2014 started, not as positively as hoped for,but it certainly started. I’ve reread my Nurture hopes for the year and doing better than I thought.

Jan 1 – the global twitter aspiration – @globalsolo is born and now on February 18 there are just under 800 members (knock me over with a feather). The blog has had over 2000 views. I wore custom printed globalsolo items to the BETT show and Teachmeet. I also presented at TMHavering, which Andy Lewis and I organised.

Jan – certificate to return to work ended on13/1, I was ready. Occupational health appointment and follow up meant I didn’t get into the classroom until Tuesday 4/2. But, the return has been good. A phased build up which returns after half term.

Jan – son leaves hospital (see previous posts), under cloudy circumstances but lands good supported housing place,a fresh start and a chance to learn those independent living skills.

jan – I continue to do and complete my CBT online course (8 weeks) and my self esteem group therapy course (8 weekly sessions). I now use techniques without even consciously having to remind myself.

Feb – back to school, and as usual when planning for that return I reconsider my #7e based lesson plan, and find myself modifying inane including a number of strategies I have been using / developing / discussing (see previous Feb. post).

Every class starts with mindfulness based breathing exercise to ground class – it’s new but they cope well andI get to practise mindful calmness several times each day. Solo taxonomy is back in the room and I using what
I am telling others about.

Teachmeet havering is a success, 80 in the hall and 50 following online stream from the wonderful Leon Cych. A variety of presenters including William from Atlanta (no, he did not come just for our Teachmeet). A happy evening and a chance to use solo taxonomy at the end to evaluate the learning by actively involving the audience. See L4L online for footage.

Almost half term looking up and crrrrrassshhhhhhhh. Son factor, parenthood – the learning curve, or as I am now thinking, overhang continues. Yesterday I saw my son in his new homeless guise. Today he’s back Ina police station, tomorrow – who knows. But, and it is a very important one – I know that his Mum and I have done everything to support him and now we are taking a step back because self preservation is also important for us and his younger brother.

So a reflective post, lots of positives, some patches of gloom but my BD is not back and I a finding positives in every day. If you got this far, thanks for your patience and reading.

Modifying my lesson plan (!) and structure

For those that communicate with me regularly online you may be aware that I have recently returned to work after a period of the Black Dog, from end of November to Mid- January.

Sitting down to plan my first lessons back, I found myself reflecting on Hayley Thompson’s #7eplan that I have been using since attending #pedagoolondon in March. 2013. For the past year in my school where detailed lesson plans are still required for every lesson, mine have stood out for looking completely original. If a copy is left on a printer everyone knows it’s one of mine.

So what did I think on this occasion? The structure was too cramped sometimes for a 50 minute lesson and I wanted to bring in other things I have been reading about, discussing on Twitter or practising as part of my craft in the classroom.

Hence a more simplified approach and a plan redesign:

This plan splits my lesson into five sections;


On arrival I am using Mindfulness based breathing awareness and grounding to settle the class. This involves me modelling the expected behaviour. Feet flat on the floor, hands on lap or knees, breathe normally and silent focusing on own breathing.when the class have achieved two minutes in silence I am ready to introduce our “Elicit” task. This may be a recap of the last lesson, an opening question or if books are being returned after marking a DIRT session on reflecting and acting on comments in books. The marking includes literacy corrections and comes in three sections:

FB: feedback – looking to praise aspects of the lesson

FF: feed forward- steps to take over the next few lessons, maybe an organisation habit to adopt.

Task: a task to complete e.g. Spelling corrections, extend an answer in more details, redo a task set previously that is incomplete.

A solo taxonomy stage mark which relates to stages 2, 4 and 5 of the lesson and our differentiated outcomes based on Multi structural, Relational and Extended Abstract sections.

I will be adopting the departmental 1,2,3 to indicate if work is: above, at or below expected standard for individuals long term progress against their personal targets.

The lesson’s title and key questions are shared with the class, but not recorded.


Solo stations based drafting / FAIL (Explore)

The class sit at tables with groups of 6 (in most cases). After a couple of attempts at moving between stations, proved not the best way to stretch certain reluctant learners, I modified my technique. Each table now has a copy of 5 differentiated tasks from Pre Structural through to Extended Abstract. Once I am settled after half term, tables will be set by targets so expectations of stage to be reached consistently will be made explicit.

Resources include their peers, dictionaries, textbooks … The pupils draft their First Attempt at Learning (FAIL) on mini whiteboards. This work can include errors and this is emphasised when processing ideas is an obstacle particularly.

The second stage runs for 10 minutes, with clock and reminders of finish time on IWB and reminders from me as the teacher as I move around the room of the time left. I answer questions on tasks, prompt and occasionally give ideas to move groups or individuals into the next task – this is resisted as much as possible.

Three (Explain)

The next stage (maximum 10 minutes) is my teacher slot. This might be talking about examples, it might be collating feedback on the solo stations exercise. It involves listening, if this is an issue I repeat model the mindfulness position until the class are attentive ( in two weeks they are adapting to this very well indeed and practising this technique in each lesson at least twice makes me calmer too).

Four Neat write up / Second Attempt in Learning (SAIL) / elaborate – extend

This is where the exercise books are issued, usually by pupils in the group. Their task is to record just the lesson title and date from the board, underline using the edge of their whiteboards (rulers an ongoing bone of contention averted here). They then write their stage two answers up. They are encouraged to proof read, correct or enhance their written account as this stage is undertaken. They are encouraged to record the solo stages in the margin adjacent to their answers so progress within the lesson will be visible (see stage 5). Then clean their mini whiteboards using the eraser / sponges.

If this is completed within the 10 minute window, they record Extra in the margin and attempt the next solo station stage or proof read work before it is marked as 100% literacy accuracy target has become my SPaG mantra.

Five. Evaluate

The final section of the lesson includes a choice of three pupil activities – they SA (Self assess) their attainment and / or PA (Peer assess) a fellow pupil (peer’s name is recorded if follow up needed as assessing. Is inaccurate) and /or FF (Feed Forward) personalised next steps forward that they can take, over time it will be informative to compare FF and Tasks used in teacher marking and pupil set FFs.

Homework may be set in this section in alternate lessons (KS3 classes on two lessons per week and weekly hwk expectation).

Discussion of some pupil comments encouraged too. Tables then set tidy up expectations and class dismissed in order tables complete tasks and sit quietly.

So there we have it – two weeks in- I am very happy with how classes have started.TAs and pupil premium mentors have been complimentary about the structure and activities.

So what do you think? Yes for a change I am interested in comments.